Good game for the Rangers today against the Mariners in Peoria. The offense, which looked catatonic in last nights 4-1 loss to the Angels, woke up and hammered out 18 hits for an 8-5 victory over Seattle.
Michael Young and Ian Kinsler each went 3-3, and Hank Blalock, Jason Botts and Kevin Mench all registered 2 hits, Botts also driving in three runs. In fact, every starter in the lineup had a hit except for – guess who – everyone’s favorite offensive catcher, Gerald Laird, who was 0-4. Get used to seeing that from Gerry – now that he’s sewn up the catchers job, it’s about time for him to return to his old chop-bunting self.
Now that my obligatory jab at Laird is out of the way, back to the good stuff.
Jason Botts apparently turned some heads with those three RBI’s today – he impressed Dallas Morning News witer Evan Grant, at the very least. In his latest blog entry, Grant says "Trust me on this: Jason Botts made the club saturday". He says that the Rangers saw what they have "been waiting to see all spring", and that’s Botts driving in runs.
Not that this is official, of course, but that’s good news, both for Jason and the organization. I still think Botts has the potential to hit, I’m just not sure how much of a real chance the Rangers will give him, however. Remember, even though he seems to have made the team, he still has to compete with Frank Catalanotto, David Murphy, Marlon Byrd and Milton Bradley for playing time – and based on what Ron Washington’s preferences are, I’d say Jason is likely going to end up on the bottom of that totem pole.
Wash thinks Ben Broussard can play full-time at first base without the need of a platoon partner, so Botts probably won’t see much time there, and Milton Bradley is likely to be the DH for the first week or two. That’ll leave Botts scrapping with Murphy and Catalanotto for playing time in left field – and since his OF defense is, shall we say, less than special, it’s likely he won’t get a whole lot of time there, either. Not to crush all the optimisim of Botts making the team – I’m just as excited as anyone – but that’s only going to be half the battle for him.
This is one of those times I can’t help but think if the 33 year-old Frank Catalanotto (who hit a career-low .260 last year, and is hitting a ******** .207 this spring) wasn’t on the roster, things would be much less complicated – not to mention the fact that we would have a much more athletic and versatile bench without him.
Moving on to a few notes about the bullpen now, it seems that the Rangers do indeed want to keep Robinson Tejeda, despite my supposition yesterday that his less-than-impressive performance versus the Angels may have swayed the Ranger management against him. According to TR Sullivan, the Rangers still really like his arm, and don’t want to lose him to waivers. I wasn’t partucularly impressed yesterday by the fact that he still obviously has problems with his control, but I agree, you don’t want to lose a guy who throws consistently mid-90’s if there is any possibility at all he can be an asset.
TR also mentions that while Franklyn German has the inside track for the second bullpen spot, although Sidney Ponson and Elizardo Ramirez have been sent to the minors. Based on the indication TR is giving us, it looks like a two horse race between German and Littleton for that second bullpen spot, which likely leaves Kam Loe, Frank Francisco and Josh Rupe on the outside looking in.
Each one has their advantages, as German was recently praised by pitching coach Mark Connor as being the hardest thrower and having the best split-finger in camp. But he is not on the 40 man roster, and Littleton is, so once again, the roster situation could turn out to be the deciding factor here.
Final note for the night: I really don’t like the way the Rangers official website was recently redesigned. The new look is messy, crowded, and just plain ugly – and unfortunately, it’s the template for all 30 major league teams now, not just the Rangers. So to whomever came up with this new design, I implore you to at least reorganize the page to make it a little cleaner, and easier to read. Otherwise I garuntee you I will be spending much less time there.